Interiors are essentially an exercise in storytelling, is the viewpoint of Tony Chi, founder of Tony Chi Studios. He believes that every space must have a narrative, because it is this that people will remember, rather than specific elements of design.
As such, the studio is characterized by subtle details that individually add to a common theme or idea, working together to create a unique experience that is deeply intertwined with the tale of the space. This idea of ‘invisible design’ has been utilized in a range of projects from hospitality to welfare.
Here are fifteen of the best examples of Tony Chi’s philosophy.
1. Park Hyatt, Shanghai
The Park Hyatt, situated on the upper levels of the Shanghai World Financial Center, is one of the highest hotels in the world. The hotel is a seamless blend of Chinese design and the characteristic elegance of the Park Hyatt brand.
Tony Chi Studios bring their distinctive style of understated luxury with the muted and warm palette of earthy colors and materials that allows the highlight of the space- the floor-to-ceiling windows that provide awe-inspiring views of the city- to stand out. Careful lighting ensures that the space retains an air of serenity and comfort at all times of the day.
2. Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Guangzhou
Tony Chi Studios pays homage to the unique history and location of the Mandarin Oriental through clever references contained within the design elements of the building. An example is the marble floor patterned to resemble a flowing river, and the dark polished oak cladding that brings to mind a colonial manor.
The different elements amalgamate together to create a rich experience for the visitor. The plan itself is a re-imagining of traditional Chinese architecture, with programs being stacked vertically around a central courtyard.
3. Rosewood, London
The Rosewood London was designed as a renovation of an Edwardian building and retains a sense of timelessness that Tony Chi accentuates with his use of rich materials such as lacquer, textured wood, and mirrors.
Rosewood wanted a strong sense of London’s history and ambiance, and Tony Chi’s philosophy of experiential design allows this concept to be well illustrated in the space. From the grand entrance to the individual rooms, there is a clear experience of London’s cultural character.
4. The Carlyle, New York
The Carlyle in New York has a history that dates back to the 1930s, and when it was being renovated, Tony Chi Studios wanted to showcase both its heritage and its importance in the neighborhood today.
As Chi says, “Our studio’s focus with the design of The Carlyle is the passage of time”. The rooms are therefore designed as a fusion of the past and the future, with modern finishes blending pleasantly with more traditional fittings and detailing of the original hotel.
5. Grand Hyatt, Chengdu
The Grand Hyatt in Chengdu is inspired by the variety of influences in the area, such as traditional Sichuan houses and French manors. Each area was meticulously designed to create a sense of journey, with different spaces opening to each other.
The vertical circulation that connects the ground floor to the 10th floor is strengthened with floral paintings designed to welcome guests and add a sense of intimacy. This sense of domesticity and comfort continues throughout the various spaces through the careful use of materials such as wood and leather juxtaposed with vegetation and open spaces.
6. Asaya, Hong Kong
Asaya is a wellness center in Hong Kong. The goal of the center was to attempt to create a space for wellness and relaxation within the city, instead of requiring long travel times. Tony Chi designed the center as an oasis of serenity and greenery within the dense urban fabric. A material palette of water, stone, and greenery is incorporated into the design.
The program features spaces for aromatherapy, bathhouses inspired by Roman bathhouses, and a tranquil room for meditation. Marble hydrotherapy pools overlook the harbor through large windows that invite light into the space and complements the aura of peace.
7. I. Sawan Residential Spa and Club, Bangkok
The I.Sawan Spa, situated on the fifth floor of the Grand Hyatt Bangkok, offers a retreat from the frenetic activity of daily life that cleverly incorporates the typical aspects of a wellness center. Tony Chi Studios designed this spa as a “sanctuary in the sky.”
The various functions and features are complemented by the use of bamboo, light, open spaces with stone finishes, and careful attention to details to create a tranquil experience.
8. Andaz, 5th Avenue
Andaz was designed as a vision of how hotels could be in the future. Tony Chi envisioned it as a “hotel of the future”, and defined it as a reimagining of traditional hospitality spaces such as inns and B&Bs.
The hotel is a series of spaces that act as an experiment for how the perception of different functions can be challenged and overturned. The building additionally integrates different aspects of New York’s history and culture to create a hotel that acts as a neighborhood center that is deeply rooted in its context.
9. DarkSide, Hong Kong
DarkSide bar is one of the prominent dining spaces of Rosewood Hong Kong and is quickly becoming a popular destination in Hong Kong. It offers a wide range of high-quality drinks. The design of the space echoes this with a range of first-class design elements that come together to create the illusion of a different era.
The passage of time is showcased by the hourglass ceiling installations, and the blend of antique and modern finishes creates a sense of stepping out of time. Oak with bronze accents harmonizes with the jazz music that is an anchor feature of the space.
10. Bencotto, Taipei
One of three restaurants designed within the Mandarin Oriental Taipei, the Bencotto is an Italian restaurant that is noted for the atmospheric setting that is characteristic of Tony Chi Studios. An interesting mix of rustic and classic adds to the experience, which is compounded by the array of dining spaces.
The entrance features a display wall featuring various wine and liquor bottles, and this theme is carried forward with the lighting, which features recycled bottles. Olive trees are a recurring motif that accentuates the Renaissance era styling of the space.
11. Manor House, London
The inaugural property of Rosewood Hotels has the honor of being the only suite in the world that has its own unique postal code! The suite itself, located on a busy city street, resembles a country manor, and it retains this aesthetic in its interiors.
Designed by Tony Chi, the house has an old-world charm that still retains a thread of modernity, with bespoke furnishings and finishes. Earthy tones add to the antique grandiosity of the space, as do the luxury materials used.
12. Pagoda House, Kyoto
The Pagoda House in Kyoto has a magnificent view of Yasaka Pagoda and is a part of the Hyatt series of Hotels. It is a popular space for stay, with the unique blend of intimate domestic comfort and luxurious hospitality that is characteristic of Tony Chi Studios.
Their design language is further evidenced throughout the space, from the marble-clad bathroom to the wooden finishes inspired by traditional Japanese architecture. A high sloped ceiling adds to the cozy ambiance of the rooms. The use of wood also adds a sense of warmth and atmosphere to the area.
13. W Hotel, Santiago
Part of the glass complex of Isidora 3000, this hotel offers a modern version of traditional Chilean décor and design, signified by the eclectic mix of furnishings from a sheepskin wall to a glass fireplace.
Tony Chi drew inspiration from the vibrant colors and textures of Chile, with a bright color palette and a variety of textured surfaces, most of which are made from locally sourced natural materials. This would also ensure that the vibe of the place would alter naturally over time, as the materials aged and changed, thereby enhancing the experience.
14. Intercontinental Hotel, Geneva
The InterContinental Geneva got a makeover in the 2000s under the capable hands of Tony Chi Studios. They transformed it into a place that symbolized the sophisticated beauty of Geneva. The goal, to offer a modern twist to the classical beauty of the original hotel, is visible throughout the hotel.
For example, the lobby contains double-height spaces and fluted columns, with modern art installations and features providing balance. Rooms of various sizes all carry the characteristic subtlety of Tony Chi’s designs, with clean lines and luxury fittings.
15. Colony, Singapore
“Outstanding Execution – Tony Chi at his very best” was one of the comments for this project, which won Tony Chi Studios the ‘Restaurant’ award at the AHEAD Asia 2017. Colony is the new dining outlet at the Ritz-Carlton Singapore, and offers a range of eight kitchens, each following a different theme and cuisine.
The space is divided by open wooden screens that reach the ceiling, and hidden mirrored panels can be pulled to create a more private space if needed. Contemporary finishes blend with copper ceiling tiles and glass accents that add a hint of steampunk aesthetic to create a space that recalls the past into the present.